Excellent customer service is one of the most fundamental aspects of any business that interacts with the public. It’s also one of the areas that can always be improved on, regardless of how good we might think we are at it.
Many managers get sucked into thinking that improving customer service skills is an expensive endeavor. While it’s true that it’s a big money-making industry for those specialists who provide training and resources for it, we can also give some effective tips out to our staff that don’t cost a cent. This article is going to explore five ways of doing this.
1. Hold ‘team-bonding’ events
As a manager, it’s important to keep team members singing from the same hymn sheet – something that requires trust and cooperation.
Team-bonding activities are a great way of reinforcing this. They teach the values of respect and teamwork, while also helping employees to let off steam in the process. The only problem is, going down the route of weekends away is a sure-fire way to drain the company budget.
Instead, setting aside half a day, or possibly a weekend morning, for employees to come in and take part in a team-bonding event is a smart way to build morale. Activities like an in-office Escape Room (easily downloaded off the web) and a Scavenger Hunt are both entertaining and free of charge.
2. Provide free online training courses
Training is an essential part of any role, of course, and employees should continue to take on board new ideas throughout their career. In-house training is a good idea, but it can be costly to the company with tutors and material to pay for.
An effective and budget-friendly supplement, then, are free online training courses. LinkedIn’s Learning section is a superb resource that includes a list of useful training videos for customer service employees. What’s more, if the employee has a LinkedIn profile, then the site automatically adds the course to their online resume upon completion.
Other websites take a slightly more specialised approach; in the iGaming industry, Casino Guru provides iGaming training for professionals at no cost, a resource that is designed to improve the communication between casinos and their customers. Training site Alison, meanwhile, offers courses to help hotel staff deal with guest enquiries and complaints.
The internet is a diverse and complicated tool, but courses like this mean we can use it to our advantage to educate workers, without the expensive outlay on books and teachers.
3. Make sure they have a deep company knowledge
A great customer service rep needs to embody the company’s ethos in their work – and they can’t do that without a thorough understanding of the place they work at.
The company history and mission statement should already be integral to them as an employee, and it’s also essential that they are kept up-to-date with new developments. They should know what’s happening across different departments; something that you can improve by encouraging regular interaction between them.
There are several effective ways of doing this. Sharing company information in a communal resource such as Google Drive is one, where you can create engaging ‘how to’ videos, for example. Another idea is to empower senior colleagues to act as mentors for less experienced staff and encourage them to pass on tips and information.
4. Practice regular communication with them
Putting up barriers between you and your employees doesn’t just affect morale – it holds the company back, too.
If your staff feel comfortable approaching you, then they’re more likely to communicate with you. If they communicate with you, then they’ll likely improve their performance as both parties will learn more. This could be in the form of feedback, suggestions on how to improve or highlighting problems.
Regular communication is something that needs to be worked on, but it doesn’t have to be time-consuming. 15-minute weekly meetings with individuals and slightly longer group get-togethers should always be on the schedule.
5. Active listening
It might seem obvious, but the art of great customer service is to listen, yet it seems many companies overlook this simple fact.
Active listening is where the employee demonstrates that they are listening to what the customer is telling them, and there are several ways of doing this. One of them is to repeat the customer’s concern back at them to show that they have heard them and to clarify exactly what the issue is.
Another tip is to always let the customer finish their sentence. Finishing it for them, or talking them down patronisingly, can make a tense situation worse as it has the effect of belittling what the customer is saying.
Demand for active listening training has gone up in recent years as companies seek to adopt a more caring approach to their clients.